Publication Date

January 11, 2016

Perspectives Section

From the Teaching Division, News

I am grateful for and humbled by my appointment to the National Council on the Humanities, as I was by my nomination and election as vice president for the Teaching Division of the American Historical Association.


With a widely observed drop in the number of history majors and in the enrollment in history courses, our profession in 2016 faces an urgent and compelling invitation to innovation. Over the years, I have tested, by trial and error, a wild range of strategies for reaching public audiences.  After plenty of trials and even more errors, I have come to believe that there is unending promise in the project of expanding opportunities for historians and for humanists in general.

Among the many current challenges that are made more manageable by the application of historical perspective, the necessity to expand development of renewable energy has been a subject of particular interest to our Center of the American West.  This work turns out to provide an exact analogy to the situation of the profession of history.

Solar and wind resources are abundant, and yet the sites where they are produced are often remote from the concentrated populations in need of energy. Creating a network of transmission lines is essential to bring renewable energy into its full force. The resource of historical understanding is abundant, and my three days at the AHA annual meeting in Atlanta left me dazzled by the dimensions of that resource. But the sites where historical understanding is produced are often remote from the concentrated populations in need of that understanding.

The AHA and the National Council on the Humanities play ever-expanding roles in the creation and maintenance of the transmission lines that connect historical research and reflection to the public. I am grateful for the chances I have had to enlist in this great cause.

Please visit for additional information about Limerick’s appointment to the National Council on the Humanities.

This post first appeared on AHA Today.

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